NBA: Nuggets begin title defense vs Lakers, Warriors test Suns in season opener

LeBron James Lakers vs Nuggets NBA

FILE – LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket against Nikola Jokic #15 and Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets during the second quarter in game two of the Western Conference Finals at Ball Arena on May 18, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

Reigning champion Denver will host the Los Angeles Lakers to open the new NBA regular season while French prodigy Victor Wembanyama will make his regular-season debut the following night in the 2023-24 league schedule revealed on Thursday.

The campaign will open on October 24 and conclude on April 14, 2024, with each club playing 82 regular-season contests as well as competing in the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, which tips off November 3 and ends in Las Vegas on December 9.

The Nuggets, who defeated Miami in June’s NBA Finals, will raise their first championship banner before playing LeBron James and the Lakers.

Also on opening night, the Phoenix Suns will visit the Golden State Warriors, matching 12-time NBA All-Star guard Chris Paul against the Suns squad that traded him away.

Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson will power Golden State against Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal for the Suns.

French teen star Wembanyama, the 7-foot-4 (2.23m) top pick in this year’s NBA Draft, will make his NBA regular-season debut for the San Antonio Spurs on October 25 against the visiting Dallas Mavericks, led by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Victor Wembanyama Spurs NBA

FILE – San Antonio Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama reacts after a play against the Portland Trail Blazers during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game Sunday, July 9, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Also on October 25, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will spark the Boston Celtics as they visit the New York Knicks.

Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis makes his Celtics debut against the club for which he played in his first three NBA campaigns.

On October 26, Philadelphia will visit Milwaukee and Phoenix will face the Lakers in Los Angeles.

On October 27, the Miami Heat will visit Boston while the Warriors travel to Sacramento in rematches of last season’s conference finals.

The NBA’s December 25 schedule includes five Christmas feature matchups — Milwaukee at New York, Golden State at Denver, Boston at the Lakers, Philadelphia at Miami and Dallas at Phoenix.

Atlanta and Memphis will continue traditions of hosting games on Martin Luther King Jr. Day as the January 15 slate has Wembanyama’s Spurs in Atlanta and Golden State at Memphis. Houston will visit Philadelphia and Oklahoma City will visit the Lakers in other holiday matchups.

January 27 will feature Miami at New York, the Lakers at Golden State and Philadelphia at Denver as Nuggets two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic and reigning MVP Joel Embiid face one another in a big-man showdown.

jimmy butler Heat vs Nuggets NBA Finals

FILE – Kyle Lowry #7 and Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat react during the first half against the Denver Nuggets in Game Four of the 2023 NBA Finals at Kaseya Center on June 09, 2023 in Miami, Florida. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP

Rematches of last year’s NBA Finals contests will find Miami at Denver on February 29 and March 13 in Miami.

Wembanyama and this year’s number two draft pick, Charlotte’s Brandon Miller, will meet when the Hornets visit San Antonio on January 12.

That’s the same day the NBA pits brother against brother when rookies Amen Thompson of Houston and Ausar Thompson of Detroit meet in Michigan.

Marcus Smart, traded after nine seasons with the Celtics, makes his return to Boston with Memphis on February 4.

The 2024 NBA All-Star Game will be played at Indianapolis on February 18.

All 30 teams will play on April 14, the final day of season.

The NBA will stage pre-season games at Abu Dhabi, Montreal and Vancouver.

Paris, host city for next year’s Olympics, will host an NBA regular-season game on January 11, 2024, when the Brooklyn Nets face the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic will play a regular-season game at Mexico City on November 9.

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